As its title indicates, Zulu Heartbeat is heavily influenced by the rhythms and culture of Africa's Zulu tribe. But the music of Mamelang, an interracial group from South Africa, isn't traditional tribal music -- rather, it is modern South African pop with a heavy Zulu influence. While many South African artists sing in English, Mamelang sticks to the Zulu and Sotho languages. Mamelang's songs tend to be very reflective and relaxed, and its lyrics are quite substantial -- of course, anyone who doesn't speak Zulu or Sotho won't understand any of them. But the CD's liner notes inform us that Mamelang's message-oriented songs deal with subjects ranging from the AIDS epidemic in South Africa to the country's political events. "Aretshwaraneng," for example, salutes those who were political prisoners back when South Africa still had apartheid laws. And the listener doesn't have to know anything about Mamelang's lyrics to realize how charming its vocals and melodies can be.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson